Back in the summer of 2003, after polarizing Japan for three years as the Toyota bB, the defiantly quadrilateral Scion xB polarized America. Those who got it, loved it; those who didn't, definitely didn't. Like it or not, though, the xB birthed a new brand and stoked its youthful target demographic. Fast-forward almost six years, and we prepare to welcome to America the 2010 Kia Soul, a kimchi-flavored take on the xB and, without question, the wackiest thing to come out of Korea since M*A*S*H. It's similar to the xB in size, specification, and price, and it's identical in aim. Can it cause a similar commotion?
To find out, we headed to Seoul for an early drive of the Soul in its homeland. As long as you missed Kia's very happening Soul concept car at the 2006 Detroit show, you're likely to find the production version mostly unobjectionable, maybe even fetching. It's offered in four trim levels: a base edition, the punctuated Soul+ and Soul!, and the top-drawer Soul Sport. The base car gets a 122-hp, 1.6-liter in-line four and a five-speed manual; the rest of the range gets a 142-hp, 2.0-liter four with the stick shift or a four-speed automatic. We sampled only the 2.0-liter/manual combo during our brief outing.... Read full article